What makes us pick up a book in a bookshop? Is it the author? Is it the prologue? In Varun Agarwal’s case, it was the quirky name of his best selling book that did the trick.
The author of ‘How I braved Anu Aunty and co-founded a million dollar company’, Varun runs three companies, Alma Mater, Reticular and Last minute Films. When you think of a man who owns million dollar companies, the tendency is to picture a middle-aged, wise looking man in formal clothing, perhaps holding a briefcase. Varun Agarwal defies the stereotype. This 25-year-old from Bangalore walks around with over-grown hair, worn out denims and canvas shoes. The only thing business-like about him is the Blackberry he uses to text and tweet incessantly.
Despite Anu Aunty being a runway hit, he doesn’t consider himself an author. “I’m a storyteller,” he assures. The sequel to Anu Aunty is due by August this year and Varun hasn’t even started writing it. He finished his first book in just seven days. “I sat down and finished it at one go. It was like I was studying again,” he said.
Compelled to study engineering by ‘Anu Aunty,’ Varun satiated his creative inclinations by founding Last Minute Films, a video production company while still pursuing his second year of engineering.
His break-through came when Bombay-based band Pentagram asked him to make a video for their song Voice, which went viral on YouTube and eventually got TV rights from VH1. He then went on to direct the likes of A.R. Rahman and Preity Zinta in music videos.
Since then, Last Minute Films has flourished along with another one of Agarwal’s companies, Alma Mater, a company that designs memorabilia for schools and colleges across the country.
Contrary to the belief that such entrepreneurs are born with a silver spoon, Varun Agarwal did not use his parents’ money to make good. Alma Mater was run from his garage for over six months, before investors saw potential in the business venture and pumped in capital.
One of Agarwal’s major struggles was fighting his own insecurities about failure and what was expected of him. “If you want to be a carpenter, be a carpenter. Be what you want because at the end of the day you don’t want to end up living somebody else’s life,” he says.
Anu Aunty obviously approves.